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C Pinnock, T Lia, T Smith, editors. (Pp 963; price not stated). Greenwich Medical Media, London, 2003. ISBN 1-900151-618
This book is intended for anaesthetists in training. The editors set out to generate a text book encompassing the primary FRCA syllabus with their first edition and have now come up with a new and improved version. If you are sitting the primary FRCA exam, then this book has a lot to offer: there are four sections and 963 pages in all, and it measures up to the competition. The first section is all about clinical anaesthesia, and is the most relevant to emergency department doctors. The second and third sections cover physiology and pharmacology, while the final section deals with physics and clinical measurement. Much of the later sections are not really necessary for us in the emergency department, and to tell the truth I expect our somewhat short attention spans will not extend to details of light transmission and absorbance. If this is your thing, though, you will not be disappointed.
The editors have taken a lot of trouble to ensure there is consistency of style, which makes reading it easier, and the layout is reader friendly. Tables and figures are monochrome or highlighted with shades of pea-green though, which becomes a little dull after a while. If I were using this book to work for an examination, more colours would help make it all seem worthwhile.
I suspect most emergency department doctors own or intend to own a reference book on anaesthesia. The choice depends on what you do in your department: if RSI is de rigueur, then a book like Fundamentals would be a good back up to the Manual of Emergency Airway Management. If you devolve this responsibility to the anaesthetist on call, then a smaller book would be more appropriate, and you would cross you fingers that the anaesthetist has read and understood a book like Fundamentals of Anaesthesia.